Thursday 27 September 2012

Rihanna - Diamonds

Another Autumn. Another Rihanna album.

We may not yet know the title of Ri Ri's upcoming seventh album, undoubtedly hitting us in November (as was the case with 'Rated R', 'Loud' and 'Talk That Talk'), but we do now know that Diamonds is the first single.  

Each of her albums has developed her sound in subtle and not so subtle ways.  Let's just compare the first (official) singles from each of those albums.  Russian Roulette introduced us to an angry, post-Chris Brown Rihanna, all wailing guitars and powerful vocals that blazed the way for an album full of aggression.  Only Girl (In The World) brought us a huge club banger, 'Loud' being a more dance-influenced album - with its mix of overt sexuality (S&M), flirtation (What's My Name?) and bajan roots (Man Down).  We Found Love proved a massive hit, even if 'Talk That Talk' merely took 'Loud' to new extremes.

If Diamonds is anything to go by, this mystery seventh album should see a more mature Rihanna, a Rihanna who has finally moved on from Mr Brown (even if the music press hasn't).  "Find light in the beautiful sea, I choose to be happy", she begins.  But how has that affected her music?

Here goes... Diamonds is dull.

There, I said it.  The production neither shimmers nor shines, placing emphasis on the lyrics, but they simply repeat "Shine bright like a diamond" for most of the song, like some sort of mantra.  It feels empty.  Sure, Rihanna has done sex to death, but this mid-tempo ballad is passionless.  Where's the fire of Unfaithful?  The spiteful outpouring of Take A Bow?  It's only in the final chorus that her voice soars, finally bringing some emotion.

Rihanna's always flirted with controversy, the strength she's shown in her personal life only fuelling her fans' passion for her music.  But Diamonds plays it too safe - the only vague controversy coming from the cover art.  Here's hoping the full album shines, even if this diamond doesn't.


Listen: You can listen to Diamonds at, with the (currently untitled) seventh album arriving in November.